Turkish Parliament extends military mandate: what is the background to this mandate?

A summary is done by HDP Europe

  • First, in 2007, a resolution was passed in Turkey’s Parliament to send troops to Iraq. It has been extended for six consecutive years.
  • One year after the outbreak of the civil war in Syria in 2011, a motion was first published to send troops to Syria. This motion has also been extended by another year.
  • In 2014, the new resolution also confirmed the deployment of troops to Syria and Iraq. This motion was last extended from October 7, 2020 to October 30 of this year.

These motions were always extended for one year after they were published.

For the first time this year, the motion was extended to two years, until the 2023 October.

With the votes of the AKP (Justice and Development Party), the MHP (Nationalist Movement Party) and the IYI party (Good Party), the Turkish Parliament has extended their mandate for foreign operations in Syria and Iraq by two years. This was opposed by the HDP (Peoples’ Democratic Party), the CHP (Republican People’s Party), the TIP (Workers’ Party of Turkey) and the DBP (Democratic Regions Party), whose deputies voted against the motion. It was also opposed by Political Parties outside Parliament and by NGOs. 

HDP Co-Chair, Pervin Buldan, called the mandate an “extension of war and occupation”. At the HDP’s parliamentary group meeting, she described it as directed against the Kurds, and as intended to give air to Islamist groups such as ISIS and Al-Nusra Front; and she commented:

“With this mandate, the government wants to prevent a peace process from emerging in Syria. The conflicts and the resulting refugee movements are to continue in order to profit from them. That is the purpose of this mandate.”

She also pointed out that the authorization for foreign missions in Syria and Iraq has previously only been extended for a year, commenting:

“Apparently, the government is afraid that in one year there could no longer be an AKP parliamentary group. It sees for itself that its departure is approaching and wants to safeguard its war policy until 2023.”

Ahead of the vote, the HDP had called on opposition parties not to give Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan another war mandate, and to end the “bloody cycle of violence.” Numerous civil society organizations had also spoken out against the motion.

HDP spokesperson, Ebru Günay, explained at a press conference:

“The mandate is a tactic of prolonging the life of the AKP through policies of war, chaos, hostility and polarization. It is the effort of the government, which drags the country into poverty, crises and collapse. This is the basis and content of the bill submitted to the parliament. For this reason, we both warned the people of Turkey against this game, and also called on the democratic sections and the opposition not to become an instrument of these dirty policies of the government.”

Günay noted the democratic importance of the opposition party votes against the motion, observing,

“What is objected to and opposed is not only the AKP’s war policies, but also its capturing of the opposition through war.”

Turkish invasions and occupations have already been condemned by the European Parliament

In their resolution of 11 March 2021, “on the Syrian conflict – 10 years after the uprising”, the parliament agreed:

“Turkey has been intervening directly in Syria since 2016 with a view to occupying the northern parts of the country, predominantly consisting of Syrian Kurdish enclaves, in violation of international law, including by invading in October 2019 territories controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). 

EP calls on Turkey to withdraw its troops from Northern Syria which it is illegally occupying outside of any UN mandate; condemns Turkey’s illegal transfers of Kurdish Syrians from occupied Northern Syria to Turkey for detention and prosecution in violation of Turkey’s international obligations under the Geneva Conventions; urges that all Syrian detainees who have been transferred to Turkey be immediately repatriated to the occupied territories in Syria; is worried that Turkey’s ongoing displacements could amount to ‘ethnic cleansing’ against the Syrian Kurdish population; stresses that Turkey’s illegal invasion and occupation has jeopardised peace in Syria.”

Turkey has been accused of using chemical weapons in Northern Iraq (Southern Kurdistan)

In their ongoing invasion of Northern Iraq, Turkey has been reported to be using chemical attacks. The use of chemical weapons is a war crime and a breach of international law.

On June 2021, Malin Björk MEP, from Sweden’s The Left , asked a written question to the European Parliament about EU responses to the reported attacks; but, in October, High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell answered  by saying:

“(…) No reports of confirmed chemical attacks have, however, been presented.”

International authorities require independent proof, but it is them who are in a position to obtain that proof. Calls for investigation by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) are multiplying – from international women, from South Kurdistan intellectuals from Arab intellectuals. A call by over a hundred MPs, writers and activists from South Kurdistan explains,

“As Iraqi Kurds, we have been victims of chemical weapons before. We lost nearly 10,000 of our people during the 1986-1990 period. Our people are still suffering from the complications of these weapons. Now, Turkey is doing the same atrocities on our lands.” 

On 22 October, Gökay Akbulut, MP for Die Linke in the Bundestag, said in a parliamentary question that the German government had knowledge of Turkey’s use of chemical weapons in Iraqi Kurdistan. She asked “how the weapons could have been provided to them?

Also, Italian parliamentarian Erasmo Palazzotto submitted a parliamentary question about the Turkish state’s use of chemical weapons against Kurds. Palazzotto stated that chemical weapons were widely used in Metina, Zap, and Avaşin in the invasion attacks that have been ongoing in Southern Kurdistan since April 23, 2021 and added that this now “emphasizes the danger of an unsustainable scenario” in Kurdistan.

HDP deputy, Feleknas Uca, asked a parliamentary question regarding the Turkish state’s use of chemical weapons. 

“Is Turkey’s use of chemical weapons on Kurdistan Regional Government Territory allegations in the media reports true? Is there any relevant research has been conducted regarding these allegations, which are war crimes within international law? Because, 1925 Geneva Protocol prohibits the use of chemical and biological weapons in war.”

The EU Commission describes Turkey as an ‘occupying power’

For the first time, the EU Commission’s report on Turkey describes Turkey as an occupying power in North East Syria (Rojava) and Northern Iraq (South Kurdistan).

Turkey is in Syria and Iraq in defiance of international law and laws on human rights, and is committing crimes against humanity. This military mandate supports Turkey’s continuance as an ‘occupying power‘, and, with this, the continuance of the Turkish Government’s crimes against humanity. 

International law demands universal respect, and for those who do not comply to be held responsible. All international institutions must ensure that this happens.

Insisting on human rights and the rule of law is precisely what the HDP does – despite all the crackdowns and attacks.

Source: Varios madia (Medyanews, ANF…), HDP, EP, EuC and other sources that are linked